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Indian Press on Islamophobia in Europe, Frontier Gandhi and Adityanath: New Age Islam's Selection, 24 October 2020


By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

24 October 2020

• Populism, Islamophobia And What This Means For Muslims In Europe?

By Ambreen Yousuf

• Recall Frontier Gandhi

By JS Rajput

• Adityanath Always Flaunted His Bigotry, Now His War On Minorities Is In Full Swing

By Harsh Mander and Amitanshu Verma

• An Exaggerated Clampdown

By Gwynne Dyer

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Populism, Islamophobia And What This Means For Muslims In Europe?

By Ambreen Yousuf

October 24, 2020

 

“From the street to state, Islamophobia is baked into European political life” Narzanin Massoumi

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“From the street to state, Islamophobia is baked into European political life” Narzanin Massoumi

The recent body literature of Muslims in Europe suggests that they are persistently being ‘censored’. Is it so? One cannot deny the fact that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a larger proportion of Muslims underwent stigmatization of different sorts given to their ‘identity’. This didn’t stop here. Instead, this has taken ‘considerable roots’, manifesting in different forms which we broadly refer to as Islamophobia.

Muslims are demonized on daily basis, brazenly criticized, reckoned as ‘enemies’, and subject to suspicion. The violent attacks on Muslims in many European countries have deepened. Austria alone has witnessed 74% upsurge in Islamophobic attacks from the past few years. In 2018, Austria shutdown 7 mosques. In the same year, Austria and Italy both expelled Islamic preachers from their soil, 6 Imams were expelled from Austria and 16 were expelled from Italy. Expulsion of religious preachers (Imams) and scrutinizing religious institutions are done to stop the diffusion of ‘violent Islam’. To curb the so-called Islamisation, both Germany and France commenced to educate local Imams at home. They also launched pilot projects and certification programs for these imams so that they will teach specific version of Islam, which will not jeopardise these nations.

After Christianity, Islam is the second widely followed religion in France. The French constitution does not consider religion above the state and contemplates itself as ‘laicite’ or secular country. Laicite is the central and defining principle of the French national identity. According to French President Immanuel Macron, “secularism is the cement of a united France”. Equality of citizens before law irrespective of race, origin or religion is also one of its basic principles. However, the banning of the veil or burka and other religious or cultural symbols, banning of building mosques with minarets manifests denial of the right of equality of its minorities.

After 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, France has been on the high alert regarding ‘Islamism’. From 2018, there has been 52% rise in Islamophobic incidents. In 2010, the French government completely banned women from wearing a burka or covering face at public places. There is a surge in incidents of Muslims being labelled as terrorists and this ‘culture of stigmatization’ gets reinforced in a society, when political leaders issue anti-Muslim statements. For instance, French opposition leader Marine le Pen compared Muslims praying in streets to Nazi occupation. Whatever be the underlying purpose of this outrageous statement, one cannot deny the fact that such communication is driven with a purpose of ‘normalizing hatred’ against a community, which has somewhat become the order of the day. Incidents like stereotyping, online trolling, malicious campaigns, and other violent attacks have brought Europe to a tipping point. Besides this, European Muslims are encountering numerous challenges of exclusionist policies, poverty, restricted freedom of religion, unemployment, physical attacks on property and places of worship, and other social and political discriminations which are often trivialized.

Recently, speaking at Les Mureaux, President Macron said, “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country”. He vowed to eradicate the influence of Islamism from public institutions. For this, Macron has devised a new proposal to combat what he calls ‘Islamic separatism’. To counter radical/extremist elements, the government will keep check on foreign religious funding, scrutinize religious institutions and limit home-schooling. Macron’s proposal to counter radicalization will certainly set a new templet with its snowballing effects across the European continent. The idea seems to support a new version of Islam, which would be compatible with French republican values and to unleash a war of French government against so called radical or extremist Islam, within its boundaries.  ‘Islam of France’ as Macron puts it

Internally, Europe is battling economic challenges, gender issues, a rise in racism, cybercrime, and an unprecedented climatic challenge. But politicians  have intentionally shifted focus on Islamism to advance their agendas. Islamophobic movements and political parties promoting anti-Muslim agendas have gained popular support as well as political mileage. For this reason, Islamophobic discourse has well absorbed by European society. Thus, Macron’s recent speech attempting to ‘reorganize Islam’ in France is part of his election manifesto. Border crossing of refugees and excessive immigration has not only destabilized the national identity but also exacerbating the public rage.

European countries have adopted various policies varying extensively from each other. Both France and Germany have adopted policies like multiculturalism and assimilation to integrate its minorities. The French model of assimilation has completely failed because it cannot cope up with the diversity and diverse identities with the republic. Thus, minorities are losing their ‘Muslim identity’ under the garb of assimilation. Countering separatist elements, the French government continues to undermine the religious identity of its minorities. which justifies the fact that religious values cannot be above the French values.

The authorities should deal with the culture of stigmatization with respect to minorities in Europe and in particular to Muslims sternly. The broader approach of European countries with respect to religion of Islam should consider Islam’s sensitivities and the government’s hard approach in itself should not become a galvanizing force for religiously inspired violence. At the global stage, there is a need to bridge the chasm between Islam and West, which are wittingly or unwittingly propelling unending violence, which manifests in different forms as has been the recent case of beheading of a teacher in Paris. 

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Ambreen Yousuf is a Doctoral Candidate at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.

https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/populism-islamophobia-and-what-this-means-for-muslims-in-europe/

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Recall Frontier Gandhi

By JS Rajput

24 October 2020

 

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a rare example of community transition, who showed how easy it was to shed the cult of violence and walk the path of peace

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Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a rare example of community transition, who showed how easy it was to shed the cult of violence and walk the path of peace

India completed the year-long celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2. One had the privilege of participating in several learned deliberations on the relevance of Gandhian ideas in the present context. In most of these, it was rather a unanimous conclusion that Gandhi’s principles, values and his life could give a healing touch to suffering humanity in a world characterised by wars, violence, distrust, hatred, fundamentalism, terrorism, arms race, hunger, poverty, ill-health and much more. Peace, non-violence and religious harmony remain elusive commodities. And Gandhi successfully demonstrated a non-violent path to human dignity, harmony and liberty. He could influence leading personalities within and beyond India, who plunged headlong into creating a peaceful world by following his values and successfully achieving attitudinal transformation within their communities and nation.

The life of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Bacha Khan and Frontier Gandhi, presents one of the most scintillating examples of achieving a rare community transition from violence as a cult to the path of peace and love as the value of total commitment. His name may appear just as unfamiliar to most young Indians as his role as a stalwart in the Indian freedom struggle, and after Independence, as a fighter for his people in Pakistan, that he waged till his last breath on January 20, 1988. He finds little resonance even in India for various reasons.

In July 1942, Jawaharlal Nehru issued a statement on the happenings in the Frontier Province — now in Pakistan — clearly indicating how scarce the news from there was, and that too, was “often tainted and contained many wrong allegations.” Nehru had personally experienced difficulty, during his own visits to the Frontier Province, in sending out proper news through normal agencies or otherwise. He further observed that restrictions on such news being sent out were stricter in the Frontier Province than elsewhere in India. He then revealed a painful truth: “The result is that the people in the rest of India know little of what is happening in this highly important part of the country.” In this very statement, Nehru wrote about Frontier Gandhi. He said: “Few people know about the work that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan has been carrying on during the last six months. He does not believe in ostentation but he has gone to villages seeing his people, organising them and encouraging them in every way. Thus, he has covered the entire province.”

Apart from numerous impediments from various quarters, Khan also had to face false propaganda of vested interests. Born in 1890, he was greatly touched by the devastating misery of his own people which, he concluded, was due to the lack of education and consequent ignorance. He started schools and the British did not like it. He was 19 when he was first imprisoned and then it was a life in and out of jails of the Britishers, and then the Government of Pakistan. His historic movement, Khudai Khidmatgar, was launched to overcome poverty and banish the British from India. He was, till the end of the freedom struggle, for a united India.

Khan was inspired by Gandhi’s message of non-violence and he knew how difficult it would be to convince his “freedom-loving” Pathans to execute the idea. He had the courage and conviction to accept the challenge and he achieved this miracle. The type of attitudinal transformation achieved by this charismatic personality could only be termed unparalleled. He gave a new interpretation of force, courage and valour to his people and the community. This, he could do through his creative leadership, deep and thoughtful interpretation of Islam as a religion of peace. He was a man with a universal message of brotherhood and camaraderie. He knew how vibrant the cultural heritage of his people and the region was, and how this cradle of learning and culture sank “into a state where there was no room left for such good work such as education and learning.”

While India was celebrating the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, an erudite scholar of post-Independence history, RNP Singh, was searching literature and sources in libraries and institutions to put up an authentic account of the great Gandhian, Khan Abdul  Ghaffar Khan. And how India ignored his contributions which had the potential to bring forth peace not only to the erstwhile North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Afghanistan and Baluchistan but to the entire Middle East region, and even beyond.

Singh has established, based on his study, how great was the measure of wrong done to this frontline freedom fighter and an exceptional devotee of Gandhi. In his seminal work, Durand line: Did India Fail Frontier Gandhi, Singh very succinctly summarises: “He was among the very few leaders of undivided India who, by dint of their sincere effort and selfless service to their people, rose to eminence and earned a niche for themselves in the top political hierarchy of the country. Yet in spite of having earned a place among the galaxy of eminent leaders, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan never advanced his claims to recognition in the Indian context.” One could say without hesitation that India failed Bacha Khan, his Pakhtoon people and the NWFP. There is no other way out of this but to follow the path shown by Gandhi and Bacha Khan.

During the freedom struggle, Gandhi tried his best to persuade the Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah to give up the two-nation theory. He failed in his persuasion and India suffered the ghastly tragedy of the Partition. And we still need persistent efforts to strengthen our efforts to cement the age-old mutual harmony between the two major communities.

Inspired by the increasing influence of Gandhi, whose persona and ideas had begun to influence the remote North-Western part of the empire and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, young Bacha Khan opened schools for both boys and girls. He organised young people under the banner of servants of God — Khudai Khidmatgar — who, contrary to the prevalent tradition, decided to follow the Gandhian path to achieve freedom for India and its people. To these highly motivated and committed people, his message was, “The fundamental principles of all religions are the same though the details differ because each faith takes the colour and flavour of the soil from which it springs… I cannot contemplate a time when there will be one religion for the whole world.” And this came from a devout Muslim who never missed a namaaz and who also had “the spirit of brotherhood” innate in himself more than many so-called orthodox Muslims.

Religious fundamentalists and protagonists of the two-nation theory, expectedly, disliked him and his approach and inflicted numerous cruelties on him and his followers once they came to power. The persona of this Frontier Gandhi, sufferings that he endured even after Independence, must be revealed to young Indians, who are working for religious amity as the core value that could lead India to its destination of honour and acceptability in a strife-torn world.

What happened to Bacha Khan or what was done to him is summed up by Mohammed Arif Khan in the foreword to the treatise by Singh: “As an Indian, I feel that what we did to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the Pashtuns in 1957 was very unfair. The Pashtuns had voted in 1946 for a united India but the decision of the Indian leadership reduced them to being subservient to the breakers of Indian unity. The result was that Khan and his followers were treated as traitors and he spent more time in jails of Pakistan after 1947 than in British jails before 1947.” All this happened in spite of the fact that the top Indian leadership of the freedom struggle was fully aware of the significance of Bacha Khan’s contribution and his unflinching commitment to a united India. Sadly enough, India was divided. Even Gandhi, who had declared that Partition could take place only over his dead body, accepted it. All that the great Bacha Khan could say to the Indian leadership that had accepted the Partition of this great country was: “You have thrown us to wolves.” He and his people were left at the mercy of those who never liked him for his liberal stance on Indian culture, history and his progressive ideas about religious harmony and social cohesion.

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JS Rajput works in education and social cohesion

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/columnists/recall-frontier-gandhi.html

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Adityanath Always Flaunted His Bigotry, Now His War on Minorities Is in Full Swing

By Harsh Mander and Amitanshu Verma

24 October 2020

 

UP CM Adityanath in Lucknow. Photo: PTI

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What is going on in Uttar Pradesh? The constitution of India, at least in principle, still applies to the state. No emergency has been imposed.

Yet its saffron-clad chief minister, with his career of toxic runaway hate mobilisation including raising a Hindu youth militia, is running the state like a Hindu Rashtra, reducing the constitution of India to a dead letter.

Running parallel to his open war against Muslims is a subterranean current of lower-caste intimidation and terror facilitated by his administration. Weeks after Adityanath became chief minister; Thakurs of his Rajput caste torched 50 Dalit homes to punish them for erecting a statue of Ambedkar in Saharanpur.

The recent brutal gang-rape and murder of a 19-year old Dalit girl in Hathras stirred the conscience of the nation not just for the numbing savagery of the attack, but because of the administration’s brazen bid to protect the alleged perpetrators of the Thakur caste and to shamefully crush the girl’s family.

Adityanath is a leader who flaunts his bigotry like a badge of honour. Never one to disguise his hatred for Indian Muslims, one of his first decisions after entering office was to crack down on the meat trade by closing ‘illegal’ slaughterhouses. His objective was to annihilate the livelihoods of poor Muslims engaged in the trade; he was indifferent to the collateral damage of lakhs of Dalits who also suffered gravely.

His speeches, animated with Islamophobia continue unabated, as does his weaponisation of law and the police for overtly majoritarian political ends. During the lockdown, several districts imposed a ‘ban’ on azaan, the Islamic call to prayer, which was later overturned by the Allahabad high court. Tablighi Jamaat members were quarantined for no scientific reason well beyond the prescribed 14 days, for several months, and many jailed.

After the bhoomi poojan at the foundation ceremony in Ayodhya, the chief minister made clear that as ‘a Yogi’ and ‘a Hindu’ he would not join the foundation-stone laying of the mosque whose construction was ordered by the Supreme Court on the other side of the river. He renamed the Mughal Museum in Agra, designed originally to celebrate the architectural achievements of the Mughal era, as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. He asked, ‘ How can our heroes be Mughals?.’

The National Security Act empowers the government to jail a person for 12 months without an FIR to prevent him or her from acts prejudicial to national security and public order. 139 NSA cases were lodged by the UP police under Adityanath. While the chief secretary did not supply a breakdown by religion, reports have shown that under the Adityanath regime, it is predominantly Muslims against whom the NSA has been invoked. Seventy-six of those are imprisoned for cow slaughter. It is difficult to understand how anyone, who the government claims was involved in beef trade, could qualify for detention under this harsh law created to defend the country’s security.

Peaceful anti-CAA protests, which erupted all over the country in December last year, were met with the most violent police crackdown in Uttar Pradesh. The state imposed Section 144 in all districts rendering unlawful all street protests and invoked this to unleash brutal violence on peaceful protestors. Thousands were arrested and detained.

Hundreds of ordinary Muslims said that the police attacked them with batons, bullets, vandalising their homes, looting money and desecrating mosques. Twenty-three people were killed in the police crackdown – all Muslims – among whom 21 died of bullet injuries.  Minor Muslim boys were arrested and released after months. The violence unleashed upon Muslims and protestors was celebrated by the chief minister as successful and resolute.

Adityanath openly declared that he would extract ‘revenge’ from the protestors for damage to public property. The administration in many districts then served notices to protestors for such alleged damages even before their guilt was established in courts of law.

In Lucknow alone, the UP government proceeded to recover 1.5 crore rupees from the protestors, mostly working-class and poor Muslims and some respected human rights defenders. The district administration started attaching properties of protestors. In early March, in Lucknow, hoardings appeared of protestors ostensibly to officially ‘shame’ them in public, even though peaceful protests are legal. No court had found them guilty of any crime. The UP government even defied orders of the high court, refusing for long to remove the posters.  Activists and protesters including women were detained, manhandled and thrashed by the UP police.

From criminalising to effectively crushing, with brute force, the democratic anti-CAA protests, it is evident that the Adityanath administration provided the template that has since become a model for the Delhi Police, controlled by the Union home ministry. TheDelhiPolice criminalises the peaceful democratic protests as a sinister conspiracy to wage a terrorist insurrection. And now, after the Hathras outrage, UP applied the Delhi model on steroids, criminalising not only the Dalit woman’s family, but bizarrely, also protestors and journalists, linked to protests against the CAA and farmers’ bills, all part of an ‘international conspiracy‘!

How far the chief minister has travelled from the constitution is reflected also in his orders to officials to investigate into and prevent cases of ‘love jihad’, a poisonous Hindutva construction alleging ‘conspiracies’ by Muslim men to marry Hindu women and force them later to convert to Islam. With this, the line between Adityanath as a hate ideologue and the constitutional head of a government of all residents of Uttar Pradesh, including Muslims and Dalits residing in the state, has been completely erased. And for the police to consent without demur to investigate consensual adult relationships between people of different faiths marks their effective and willing merger into the chief minister’s Hindu militia.

What is ominous for the future of the Indian republic is the ease with the chief minister has transgressed dangerously, with impunity and cavalier defiance, the many boundaries laid down by the constitution. The Allahabad high court has alone on occasion offered some resistance. Most other institutions of the republic – the legislature, the police, the lower courts and most of the media – have fallen in line with the chief minister’s rampage.

Uttar Pradesh under Adityanath has opened a terrifying window into what India will become – and that also in the not too distant future – if the present rulers have their way in transforming all of India into a Hindu Rashtra.

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Harsh Mander is a social worker and writer. Amitanshu Verma works at Karwan-e-Mohabbat. His interests lie at the intersection of political economy, Indian politics and equity.

https://thewire.in/rights/uttar-pradesh-yogi-aditynath-hindu-rashtra

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An Exaggerated Clampdown

By Gwynne Dyer

24 October 2020

The youth in the streets of Lagos may not realise that their rebellion could endanger a corrupt system, but those who benefit from it certainly do

The young Nigerians who were protesting at Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos recently were not the African touring company of Les Misérables. Lekki is one of the poshest suburbs of Lagos, full of gated communities and most of the protesters were literate, media-savvy youths who reeked of urban cool. The army killed them anyway. Or maybe it killed them precisely because of who they were. IZZY@theleventh, who does not explicitly say he was there, tweeted: “They removed the cameras two hours before, turned off the street light and the LED billboard and deployed soldiers to open fire at the crowd singing the national anthem...they brought tanks!! Over 78 people are dead. The Nigerian Army then began to put the dead bodies in their trucks.”

The numbers may be exaggerated: One eyewitness told the BBC he had counted about 20 bodies and at least 50 injured after the soldiers opened fire. Official sources have denied that anybody was killed, or that the army was even there. But Channels Television has videos showing men in Nigerian Army uniform walking calmly up to the barricade and firing into an angry but non-violent crowd. The massacre comes after two weeks of protests, mostly in southern Nigeria, that were initially targeted on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Almost all Nigerian police forces are corrupt and brutal, but SARS specialised in robbing, torturing and sometimes murdering prosperous and trendy young people. If you were young, had hair of a different colour or tattoos, and were in a flashy car, you stood a statistically significant chance of having an unpleasant encounter with SARS. The protests began two weeks ago after pictures allegedly showing a man being beaten to death by SARS circulated on social media. Muhammadu Buhari, a military dictator 35 years ago and now back at 77 as Nigeria’s elected President, recognised the danger and acted fast. Within two days he abolished SARS, promising it to replace it with a kinder, gentler force — but the protesters had heard that story before, and besides they had already moved on to broader targets.

Nigeria is a powder keg at the best of times, and with lengthy lockdowns this is not the best of times. Protests exploded across southern Nigeria, and not all were non-violent. On October 19 a mob burned a police station in Yaba, another upscale suburb of Lagos, and 120 km to the east in Benin City armed crowds freed more than a thousand prisoners from two jails. The State claims that the protests have been infiltrated by criminals and in some places that is clearly true, but that’s not why the ruling political class is panicking. That’s not why they shot down well-educated, trendy but law-abiding young people in Lekki. It’s because those in power fear a youth revolt that could not only transform the country, but split it in half.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation (200 million people), is really two countries. The southern, mostly Christian half, with all the oil and ports and most of the industry, is around 95 per cent literate. Only one of the 19 northern, mostly Muslim States is over 50 per cent  literate, and half the young women in the northern region have no formal education whatever. Naturally, relative prosperity shows the same disparity. Only 27 per cent of the southerners live below the poverty line and 72 per cent of the northerners do. Yet it is young southerners who are on the brink of revolt, because it is the political domination of the north that keeps the ruling kleptocracy in power.

It starts with the army, whose officer corps has been dominated by Muslim northerners since colonial times. That is why Muslim military dictators and elected presidents from the north have ruled Nigeria for 38 of the 60 years since independence, but even Christian presidential candidates from the south are in hock to northern interests. The traditional rulers and religious authorities of the north control the big banks of voters that can be sold to the highest bidder, and it is in their interest to keep those voters ignorant and obedient. The southern kleptocrats, who buy the votes, have an equally strong interest in the system as it lets them go on stealing: One-third of Nigeria’s oil revenues over the past 50 years have ended up in foreign bank accounts.

The young men and women in the streets of Lagos may not realise that their rebellion could endanger an entire corrupt system, but those who benefit from it certainly do. Which is why their response has been so extreme. What happens next matters a lot, because 25 years from now Nigeria will have overtaken the US in population and become the third-biggest country in the world. It would be nice if by then it was a stable, well-educated democracy where prosperity extended beyond the south.

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Gwynne Dyer’s new book is ‘Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy and Work.’

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/columnists/an-exaggerated-clampdown.html

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